Chinese Medicine Teaches Us That Autumn Is the Season to ‘Let It Go’

By Jennifer Dubowsky
Jennifer Dubowsky
Jennifer Dubowsky
October 19, 2014 Updated: October 19, 2014

I was watching Thintervention on Bravo and saw Jackie (Trainer Extraordinaire) insist that the overweight, exhausted participants run holding the amount of their excess body weight on their shoulders. It was grueling just to watch !

When they were done and finally able to drop the weight to the ground she asked how they all felt getting rid of all that excess weight  – “FREE” was the cry. This metaphor works well for mental excess as well.  How many pounds of extra weight are you carrying on your shoulders ? This is the time to drop it!

You may not have Jackie Warner cheering (screaming) for you as you make the effort, but we can all survive the boot camp life sometimes puts us through.

Autumn is the time to let it go ! Nature is constantly showing us about the cycle of creation and letting go: Trees in autumn don’t stubbornly hold onto their leaves. Yet how many of us try to defy the cycle and hold onto what we’ve collected over the year – those decayed leaves in the form of old grudges, harsh attitudes, or fears? How can we hope for a healthy new year unless we release the old, and start fresh with renewed focus?

The lesson of this season, more than any other, is to release the waste, the old, and useless aspects of our lives in order to uncover all that is meaningful and possible.

Autumn is a time of bringing in and letting go. The Chinese system uses five elements to assign meaning and describe the workings of the body (see graphic.) Metal is the element the Chinese assign to Autumn. The metal element organs are the large intestine and the lungs. The large intestine is an example of letting go of toxins. The lungs are an example of breathing in, receiving fresh air, and breathing out, getting rid of the carbon dioxide. The balance of bringing in and letting go keeps us healthy.

The Five Elements (Shutterstock*)


The emotion of autumn is grief.  Feelings may be heightened so you may be a little more sensitive at this time. Autumn is harvest – not only what is in our gardens but what is in our lives. We can harvest new ideas, new behaviors, and new resolutions. Paying attention to the characteristics of the metal element will help us understand how to better care for ourselves and our loved ones during this time. Eat a healthy and nourishing diet that will keep you warm and give you energy to focus mentally.

My food recommendations come from Traditional Chinese Medicine, not Jackie. In addition to these, be sure to eat fiber-rich foods. Good choices for Autumn include:

winter squash
soups made with vegetables

Try not to be sad about the changing of the seasons. Though we may long for eternal warmth (at least I do), here in Chicago, it’s important to appreciate  the energy of each season and to take advantage of the qualities each one offers.

Start today ~ What can you let go of right now ?

Appreciate Autumn!

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at

 *Image of “five elements” via Shutterstock

Jennifer Dubowsky
Jennifer Dubowsky